For this viewing room I have selected a group of works on paper not seen before by British artist Lydia Gifford made between 2017 and 2020, configurations that transmit the movement, energy, rigour that I am so drawn to in her practice overall. Scales refers to that time an artist may put aside to warm up, exercise even. These pieces were created in that mode.
Throughout Lydia Gifford’s works on paper the marks, lines and layers enact a push and pull: between materials, between Gifford’s hand and her chosen tool and between the studio and the comparatively small expanse offered by the sheets of paper. The translation from hand to paper is palpable and energetic, conjuring an immediacy that rings through the dense veins and scribbles of black. The simple lines and muted, washy tones are disrupted by occasional jolts and swoops of colour in orange and plum. Balancing the rush of movement and the moment they are pinned down, the materials bleed into and absorb one another, containing the aftermath of touch. Squares of tissue paper crinkle, rip and fold, revealing blotches beneath their surface or a slick of watery grey. Fabric flattened down with paint retains the curve of its weave, dirty and fraying at the edges, weightier than the paper that holds it. These works offer a space for action—and this action is given room to manoeuvre—where materials jostle, leaving marks and smears in their wake, unceremonious yet urgent in their play.
Gifford’s paintings, sculptures and installations navigate the place between painting and object, stretching the language and possibilities of their materials. Interiors and exteriors are continually revealed then concealed, and they bring the practice that happens in the privacy of the studio—its urges and nuances—to their very surfaces. The liveness of the body is made present in textures and shapes, bringing the tussle of making into view and inviting us to observe.
Selected solo exhibitions include Galeria Alegria, Barcelona, Centre International d’Art et du Paysage, Ile de Vassiviere, France, Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead; Kunsthaus Baselland, Basel, David Roberts Art Foundation, London; Laura Bartlett Gallery, London and Galerie Micky Schubert, Berlin. Recent group exhibitions include: You, (Collection of the Lafayette Anticipation Foundation, Paris), Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris, Clearings: Lydia Gifford, Anna-Bella Papp and Clementine Keith Roach, Blue Projects, Blue Mountain School, London, Black Hole, Art and Materiality from Informal to Invisible, GAMec Bergamo, Women’s Art Society II, Mostyn, Llandudno, Real Painting, Castlefield Gallery, Manchester, Prairies, 3rd Edition of Les Ateliers de Rennes: Biennial for Contemporary Art, Rennes and Minimal Myth, Museum Boijmans, Rotterdam.